January 2017 Mission

Not applicable
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What is Your New Year Nintex Resolution?

Over time we all develop certain habits of doing things; right, wrong, or indifferent. I challenge everyone to reflect on some of the things that they do with Nintex that they know they should not, but have simply fallen into a habit and keep doing. What are those habits and how can you correct them?

 

For this mission, simply share some “bad” habits that you want to change for the better. Then a quick tip or advice for new Nintex Users on how not to fall into the same habits.

 

Let’s kick off this New Year making ourselves and others better!

What you get

badhabitsbadge

Get 50 points for leaving a "bad habit" and 100 points for a tip or piece of advice for avoiding the bad habit(s)!  Total available this month: 150 points!*

Many thanks to Blue Ribbon Group Member Jesse McHargue‌ for creating this mission!

*This will be a manual mission, not automated, so in early February, I'll peruse the posts below and award points and badges.

85 Comments
greenawayr
Automation Master
Automation Master

This is a good point. Although labels on actions can be used to describe what an action is doing, there's no way of commenting on the workflow process as a bigger picture to be able to explain WHY something has been done in a particular way. Whilst documentation can help, wouldn't it be great if you could annotate a section of actions in the workflow designer???

tschaef
Nintex Newbie

A great idea, Ryan!

greenawayr
Automation Master
Automation Master

Found this on uservoice

Workflow Annotations (Highlight, Notes, Colored Text) for Reference – Customer Feedback for Nintex 

Add your votes to it if you agree. I've added mine and a comment.

christopheraucq
Automation Master
Automation Master

You have Action Set that can help a bit (Not in O365 I believe)

greenawayr
Automation Master
Automation Master

Good for grouping the actions but you can't really put any detail in the labels. I feel Action Sets should be used for specific purposes as well, running actions as the owner, repeating action sets and simply grouping actions. It would be great if you could highlight a group of actions, or color code them if they're spread across the designer and comment as to why that method has been used. It's definitely been an issue in the past for me when picking up someone else's work, even when the actions have comments.

andrewg
Automation Master
Automation Master

Ryan, is this related? Adding user notes in actions so that when you view the print out of a workflow you see the notes?

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The issue with this is that you have to open the action to see the notes or hit the print preview to see it. So it has to be in the designer.

greenawayr
Automation Master
Automation Master

Sort of. But it's more about a techinque or approach that had been used rather than a specific action. Rather like commenting on a function in code rather than commenting on the name of a variable.

Action Sets could sort of cover it but I don't think you should need to add an overhead to your process by including an action just for commenting.

murphybp2
Cloud Wanderer

How much overhead would an action set add since it's not actually doing anything?

murphybp2
Cloud Wanderer

I actually use Actions sets to do exactly this.  Here is an example where I have a series of steps, and in the label of the Action step I explain why I did it the way I did.  This one is more a note for me when I come back to it.  But you could just as easily add a longer description in the Notes section of the Action Step. 

bstori
Automation Master
Automation Master

My bad habit, is trying to fit everything into one workflow. When I 1st started out and didn't know any better, I would build larger workflows with state machines, etc. Looking back I would break them into smaller workflows and either use the start workflow action or add more metadata and do conditional starts to make them run more effectively. 

rickbakker
Nintex Newbie

A bad habit I would like to change is that I to often say to customers, "O, no problem if you give me that information on .... It is changed easily.".  ... is often the day before I have to finish something.

So what is bad on that? Well, when automating a proces / creating an application, the client needs to give detailed data, like the exact e-mail text or the choices in a choice field. For some reason, this information is often difficult to get/generate by the customer meaning that the information is not providing on that date but later. Which results in me having to make the changes on a later date which often is not easy to plan resulting in me working in the everning.

The solution is obvious: Just tell the client to deliver it sooner and inform them immediately when they do not deliver. For some reason, theory and practice are not yet in sync on that one (yet) for me. I think I just have to remind myself more on this, or give myself a cookie when I do it right

janvonreith
Nintex Newbie

And another one 😉

Bad habit:

I see a lot of people using the "Pause for ..." or "Wait for..."  actions in a way that is pretty "ugly" in my opinion. For example there's an expiration date for an element that is stored in a column of the element and then there's a list workflow running on that element that pauses until the expiration date is reached and then does some other stuff (like send an email to the owner). If you have a list with 10.000 elements you have 10.000 workflows in progress (don't mix this up with workflows that are executed).

Solution:

Just set up a site workflow that runs every day and checks the expiration date, if it's reached let the site workflow do the desired stuff (like sending an email to the owner) or just trigger a list workflow on the specific item that does the same. 

cassymfreeman
Automation Master
Automation Master

‌ recognise this approach? 

amolvaidya
Nintex Newbie

adding on to this (apologies Jan to hijack your post)...

Site workflows are powerful but rarely used. Rather than starting a new workflow on each item if possible try to batch stuff into a site workflow. This is easy for maintenance.Server admins will love you for that.

one scenario i encountered before:

1) We have a project management site with sub-sites for each project.

2) The sub-sites are created from a site template that has a Status List along with other lists and libraries

3) A project list is maintained at the parent site level for easy navigation and one look for knowing status of the projects.

4) A workflow on the Status List within each sub site is fired when the PM changes the status. This workflow will then update the parent list.

Once we crossed 20+ projects I realized maintaining the workflow within the sub sites was a nightmare. Now I use a site workflow to just pull the status from each sub site every hour. I convinced the management to simply wait for an hour to see updated project status. (if anything has changed)

mislaila
Nintex Newbie

Bad habit : didn't use the error handling option. So I always stuck with how to troubleshoot the error.

Solution : make full use all option available in the workflow action so I can fix the error/cater any issue better in future.

TomaszPoszytek
Automation Master
Automation Master

Sadly it's not available in Nintex for O365

janvonreith
Nintex Newbie

Hehe it's the same with me, but I think this is the typical learning process everybody goes through 🙂

janvonreith
Nintex Newbie

On and on!

Bad habit:

If someone starts building Nintex workflows for the first time he/she probably don't know that there's a batch for the default SharePoint actions and a batch for the Nintex actions, so the order of the actions in the workflow designer is not necessarily the order in which the actions are executed, which can lead to problems!

Solution:

Use the "Commit pending changes" action to execute the actions in the desired order. The explanation for this whole topic can be found here: Designing your Workflow - Commit Pending Changes Action NW2010 & NW2013 

TomaszPoszytek
Automation Master
Automation Master

It is worth to mention, that this only applies to on premises versions of Nintex Workflow. In O365 it runs synchronously and "Commit Pending Changes" action does not exist

janvonreith
Nintex Newbie

Definitely worth to mention, thanks! 😉

emha
Automation Master
Automation Master

my bad habit: when developing a form I primarily focus on functionality point of view. final layouting and specific/conditional customizations get their turn at the end. one of such things are language specific customizations and text translations (form labels, list names, field names, etc).

since, unaccountable, plenty of NINTEX (and partially SP as well) functionality is based on object's display names  instead of internal names (typical example - both lookup controls and functions), tested and proven functionality suddenly breaks. this brings unnecessary stress and additional testing effort shortly before or after project delivery.

hint: take care of final language specifics throughout the project development.

involve end users into language texts definitions during the project, so that minimum changes are risen at/after project delivery.

janvonreith
Nintex Newbie

This is so true! Of course it's pretty easy to "just" drag and drop some actions and configure them, but if someone starts with this attitude without any experience it won't have a good ending.

janvonreith
Nintex Newbie

No unfortunately not in Office365 by now, hope it will follow this year! 🙂

rbachmann
Design Dabbler

Bad Habit:

I sometimes do minor changes to a workflow. After saving it and coming back later, I am not sure anymore, what changed since the last major version

Resolution:

My tip is to add a comment in the workflow description everytime, you save a minor version and decide to come back later.

janvonreith
Nintex Newbie

Good one! I think that the description field should be used more often in general, it's so helpful to check the worklfow inventory and find some notes about what the workflow is doing 🙂

robg
Canvas Initiate

and mine

amolvaidya
Nintex Newbie

i completely agree with this. breaking workflow into smaller parts has lots of advantages. a few come to my mind

1) Easy maintenance.- This is very obvious. You can have modular workflow which fit into each other.

2) If your WF errors you can start again only the section that errored. This is very useful when there are multiple approvals.

kkgan
Cloud Wanderer

Bad habit:

Being a technical person, I am not sure about you, but I sometimes tend to dive in fixing a problem instead of getting a solution. This habit also distracts me from continue listening or getting the full picture before I start to work on something. Have you ever heard of a sarcastic story about NASA spending years trying to invent a ball pen that works even in the space? but a solution could be as simple as just using a pencil instead... I am not sure where I heard that from or whether it's true or not, but it keeps me alert on not to fixing a problem but look for a solution.

Solution:

Try to understand the requirement, get the full picture before you start to work fixing an issue. Missing a feature of a product? maybe there is a workaround to achieve what you trying to achieve?? I was working on my blog on JavaScript to get List Items and User Profiles from Nintex Forms for Office 365 , been so frustrated keep trying the REST API call using the below code

appweburl + "/_api/SP.AppContextSite(@target)/SP.UserProfiles.PeopleManager/GetMyProperties

which gives me errors that I was trying hard to prove issue/bug with the office 365, but the solution was fast trying it the other way round calling the REST directly with from the appweb instead.

FredrikAndresen
Forms Fledgling

Bad habit

When starting designing a new workflow with diffuse scope I often don’t follow a good practice for naming and notations, thinking it will just be a limited workflow or test. When the scope expands and workflow gets more complex, it gets hard to correct the sloppiness.

 

Solution:

Always use a good naming system and change notes, without exception.

janvonreith
Nintex Newbie

I'm thinking about a summary of all bad habits and solutions that have been collected during this mission, so we have a compact oveview about it that can be used by everyone in the future. What do you think about it? 😉

jesse_mchargue
Nintex Employee
Nintex Employee

‌ - 

I think we would all benefit from a "Nintex Best Practices" or "Common Pitfalls When Using Nintex". 

bamaeric
Nintex Employee
Nintex Employee

Lots of great hints and information.  I’ve definitely learned some new things.  Thanks everyone for sharing.

Bad Habit
Like several other people, my bad habits are not always cleaning up my workflows and having unnecessary items in them.  Things like unused workflow variables, disabled actions, and extra logging actions.  These definitely add extra overhead to workflows.  When I sometimes revisit my workflows at later dates, I cringe when I realize it would have been a good practice to remove the unneeded elements.

Resolution
Many times I’ve come up with a great workflow or forms solution for a client (or I’ve used some awesome content from the Nintex community).  Then several months later I have a need to use some of the previous solutions I’ve developed.  Sometimes I have a hard time remembering what I did and who I did it for, so I spend time trying to figure out where the similar solution is.  This year I’m trying to build a library for myself of solutions that I can easily find when needed.  I’m exporting workflows and forms, saving snippets, and documenting their use and where I’ve used them.  So the next time I have a need for something I’ve done in the past, I’ll be able find the solution and be more efficient.

murphybp2
Cloud Wanderer

Ditto.  It's even worse when you are unexpectedly let go from a company, and they have all your work, and you can't get to it.

jesse_mchargue
Nintex Employee
Nintex Employee

OneNote...I have more things in OneNote than I should, but honestly it helps keep all my random ideas and thoughts in one place. 

Not applicable

Hi, everyone! I've awarded the badge/points for this mission (finally!).  Sometimes they take a few hours to show up.  But if you don't see the badge in your reputation tab (avatar>viewprofile>reputation>missions), then please let me know and I'll ensure you get the award.

My thanks to ‌ for this mission idea!  I haven't checked to be sure, but I am pretty certain there's never been a mission with this many responses.  And what's really cool is that this blogpost can be referred to in the future for great approaches to using Nintex.  

Thanks!  Don't forget about the ‌!